The total “kept” sport catch for adult fall chinook salmon from the lower Columbia River (from Bonneville Dam downstream nearly 130 river miles to Oregon’s Tongue Point) during August 2012 was 7,584 fish, which is the highest catch for the month on a record dating back to at least 1969.
The next highest August total was 6,416 last year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Joe Hymer.
Anglers finished the month strong, catching 4,079 adult fall chinook during 17,109 trips Aug. 27-31. They caught and kept 3,984 fall chinook and caught and released 95 released during that four-day span. They also caught 617 summer steelhead (374 kept and 243 released) and 67 adult coho (25 kept and 42 released
Catch rates seem to have entered a slight lull during the first few days of September, as the water level has dropped, according to Oregon and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
During the first two days of September, anglers on the lower Columbia River made 15,059 trips and caught 2,977 adult chinook (2,946 kept and 31 released), 158 summer steelhead (123 kept and 35 released), and 91 adult coho (27 kept and 64 released.
Effort remained high Wednesday with just under 1,200 boats observed on the lower river.
Through Sept. 2 there have been an estimated 74,000 angler trips with 10,530 adult chinook kept since the season began Aug. 1. The total preseason sport catch expectation for the lower Columbia mainstem fishery is 25,100 chinook and 1,500 hatchery coho.
The Columbia River fall chinook run is made up of six major management components: select area brights; lower river hatchery, lower river wild, Bonneville pool hatchery, upriver bright and mid-Columbia bright.
The URBs, fish bound central Washington’s Hanford Reach, the Snake River and elsewhere above Bonneville, generally comprise more than half of the overall Columbia River basin fall chinook return.